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RE: Making a difference ??

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Giving back rubbish to a community is not a positive thing – regardless of how full their plates are. You can’t develop structural engineering code methodology that affects not only the design community, but the welfare and safety of the public and excuse arbitrary error. This lowers the standard.  As Gail pointed out and from my observations as an independent who actually did invest my own time and money into volunteering, the political nature of the profession abounds. Those who claim to be volunteers are paid for their time away from the office and the majority of them have no excuse for ambiguity in a published code.


I remember that Shafat and I disagreed on a topic when the ICBO Seismic Design Manual – Volume II was released. It contained serious errors and its intent was to walk an engineer through the intended use of the code for light framing.  I complained about the light-framing section before publication because I was one of the volunteers (who was not compensated by my business since I was a one man office) to check the Cold-Form Steel problem. Look in the acknowledgments to verify this. I informed the engineer who was coordinating the light-framing problems of the errors in the code and was told (even though I was not chosen to verify this problem) a third draft would be published and sent to volunteers that corrected the errors. This was not done and the issue was dropped for more than six months when ICBO decided to go ahead and publish the document.


Shafat argued that we should buy the damaged document because we would be supporting ICBO by building funds to allow them to go back and make the corrections on the second edition. In the mean time, I argued that engineers who did not know of the problems would use the guide to design buildings which fortunately for ICBO resulted in a large degree of conservativeness.


Finally, when the light-framing section of the code was debated at specific levels (such as Gary Searer’s paper on the ambiguity in the Rho calculations for light framing) the reply by the SEAOC Seismology Committee was to thank Gary but because the errors were on the conservative side, they had no resolve to do anything further and with the change to the ICC, there would be no changes to the 1997 UBC. However, we are still using the same flawed code and if the public is not paying the price for this arrogance then the engineer who uses his professional judgment is potentially liable for it in a state that seems to survive on litigation or at least the threat of litigation.


Being a volunteer does not excuse one from sloppy and ambiguous work – especially a volunteer whose company is paying for his time to volunteer. If we have too much on our plate, the either clean the plate or refrain from creating Borscht (for those who don’t know – a favorite Slavic dish that is made from the weeks leftovers in the form of a soup).


Them’s my observations!


Dennis S. Wish, PE


-----Original Message-----
From: John C. Jones [mailto:john(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2003 9:22 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Making a difference ??


When I look at the various high achievers at SEA or ACEC meetings they seem to all have one thing in common.  They're on about a gazillion boards and have very full plates in the community and the profession.  They give back more than they receive.  They have balance in their lives, and being part of the solution is part of that balance.


Just an observation.

John C. Jones, PE
Barnett Associates
Pell City, AL
205-884-0099 (fax)